Even with the universal praise that Sega’s Bayonetta has already received, we remained sceptical about its overall goodness until we got to grips with it. After all, it’s only following the same slash ‘em up template as Devil May Cry and God of War. Or so we thought. What it actually does is double-kick Dante and Nero in the stones and gives Kratos a stiletto to the gut. It’s a ridiculously slick action game that just keeps on giving from beginning to end.
Admittedly, it’s not doing much you haven’t already seen before. But what Bayonetta nails is the epic scale of everything that unfolds before your eyes and the manner in which it’s delivered.
Everything here is huge, and we’re not just talking about the heroine’s chest humps. Levels, bosses and finishing moves are massive in Bayonetta and it’s all stitched together with an incredible variety of ways to kick ass, which we’ll obviously tell you more about later.
Lost the plot
Right now, we’ll give you an obligatory rundown of the story – albeit a brief one as the script is bat-shit crazy, and only serves as an excuse to twat stuff anyway.
So Bayonetta’s an Umbra Witch – a clan who worship the darkness. She’s been at the bottom of a lake for 500 years and she’s understandably suffering from a bout of amnesia. What she does remember is that her arch enemies are Lumen Sages (read: Angels) and they worship the light, and are the unfortunate saps that are turned into a thin red paste by Bayonetta throughout the game. Other characters include Jeanne – another Umbra Witch, Rodin who provides you with the weapons via his shop in hell, Luka an annoying journalist chasing Bayonetta and Joe Pesci-a-like Enzo – who adds, erm, practically nothing but wise-guy cracks to the story. Honestly, we’ve played through the entire game and the only time anything makes sense with Bayonetta’s story is right at the end. Thankfully, the superb action is a lot easier to follow.
Dual Wield? Pah. Quad Wield FTW!
Bayonetta’s unique style of death-bringing consists of the ace mechanic, which sees her use her hands AND her feet to wield weapons. The way she unleashes furious combos means she’s like a cross between a B-boy, a gunslinger and a high-class stripper. You can switch your set-up so, for example, you can attach two shotguns to your heels while wielding a sword in your hands. Tap L2 and you’ll go to your second loadout.
Oh, that black cat suit she wears? That’s her hair. She can use her immense locks to not only cover her modesty but to unleash combo ending giant stiletto kicks or hairy punches. Even better, she can use these Weave Attacks – as they’re called – to summon mega beasts that will see off huge enemies via QTEs. Our favourite? The brilliant one where you bash up a golem in the shape of a sphere and then four hands form and play volleyball with it before dropping it, comically, and punching it to bits as you slam the buttons. Sweet.
To be honest, Bayonetta’s QTEs are rather hit and miss. Literally. They’re thrown in quite often during combat but miraculously manage to compliment the flow of the action rather than hinder it. Like the Torture Moves, where you can activate an iron maiden or guillotine to kick an enemy into and cause massive damage. But every now and then you’re instructed to complete them mid-cutscene to, say, dodge a falling satellite and the like. The problem is they happen so quickly that some times you’ll miss the prompt and have to re-run the whole sequence again, which is insanely frustrating.
Big screen hits
Bayonetta’s bulle – sorry – ‘Witch’ time works brilliantly and rewards you for timing a successful dodge move with nanoseconds to spare. And the amount of moves you learn along the way, to string combos together, will ensure that you can keep things fresh as you batter the hell out of enemies.
Platinum Games have really set a benchmark with their first next-gen (current-gen?) outing and it’s going to be interesting to see how Dante’s Inferno and of course, God of War III stack up against the style and non-stop action in Bayonetta. There's so much variety on show here that you’d be an idiot to miss out on it. It really does deserve the praise surrounding it.
God of War Collection? Yes
This is a tough one. Sure, the original God of Wars have been out for ages already, so it’s no real surprise that Bayonetta beats them for both visuals and epicness. But these are the nearest comparisons until God of War III bursts onto the scene later in 2010, and no doubt that will be equally if not better than Sega’s sexy witch. All the mega-bosses that Kratos had to battle in the original two games are made to look tiny by comparison with Bayonetta’s screen-fillers. And for our money, the weapons here are far more interesting than God of War’s too.
Devil May Cry 4? Yes
In terms of style, Devil May Cry 4 is still right up there with Bayonetta, but the win for Sega comes in the form of brilliant pacing and level design. Where DMC4 forces you to retread old ground with Nero and Dante (we still haven’t forgiven you for this Capcom) Bayonetta keeps the new things coming throughout. Plus, it has a camera that isn’t permanently fixed to one spot, meaning you can switch views to see the enemies sneaking up behind you. Plus, Bayonetta is far more likable and interesting than Dante.
Ninja Gaiden Sigma 2? Yes
There's a lot to compare between Team Ninja's slash-em-up and Bayonetta. Both are super-fluid in their hack 'n' slash gameplay, with multiple weapons, magic and upgrades. Both also feature golems, gore and groin shots. But where Sigma 2 seems a tad disjointed and lacking in atmosphere, Bayonetta hits you with megaton scenarios time after time, with incredible variety of gameplay and spectacle. Not even SixAxis boob jiggle can tip the scales here - Bayonetta is just plain better.